podcast | Aug 16, 2023 |
Why Dane Austin builds heart-to-hearts into the design process

From the moment he launched his Boston firm in 2009, Dane Austin strove to give clients the perfect experience. But when the pandemic came along, he found that perfection was no longer in the realm of possibility—and in fact, it never really had been.

Austin tried something new, offering clients a realistic perspective on the good, bad and the ugly of design rather than a promise to shield them from any inconvenience. That honest approach trickled into the business in other ways, too, and has enabled the designer to foster an environment that centers on well-being: for his clients, for his team—and, finally, for himself.

On this episode of Trade Tales, Austin shares how he’s building self-care into his work schedule, how one work retreat reshaped his firm’s values, and why he no longer believes the customer is always right.

Crucial insight: In order to provide clients with a better experience, Austin opens up about what they can expect from every step of the design process—but that doesn’t mean handing them the reins. “Looking back on a project, I realize that the sticking point, or the moment that things felt a little hard or uncomfortable, is always when a client tries to take control of the process, or ask you to do something that is outside of your process or beyond the way that you normally operate,” says Austin. Instead, the designer begins each project by setting clients’ emotional expectations and building heartfelt conversations into later parts of the process, offering a sense of control without enabling them to derail the firm’s work.

Key quote: “I feel that when you’re trying to paint a beautiful picture of this design journey we go on together, and make it out to be that everything’s going to be beautiful sunshine and roses, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you’re not being honest about the trials and tribulations that we all face.”

Listen to the show below. If you like what you hear, subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This episode was sponsored by Universal Furniture and Maison&Objet.

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